It was almost eight o'clock in the evening when Maya came back to Peter's convalescence room with the two hidden whisky bottles, carefully tucked inside her lab coat, looking cautiously left and right in order not to be seen.
Peter had already supped and he was sighing contently, rubbing his full stomach. That Walter's proposal was the best thing that could happen to me in the last two weeks. I mean, the man is mad, but… I've gotta give it to him: he is a fantastic cook.
He took a small mirror from the nightstand and briefly checked his still bruised and slightly swollen face. I've looked worse. Well, my face is narrower, and my eyes look hollow and haunted… Also… I need to shave. The stubble has become a beard. And Maya was right. I totally lost weight. My guess-between 5 and 10 kilos. However… The broken rib is all healed and the gash on my right hand is gone. So… That means I'm definitely outta here in five days. Back on the field… It actually feels good to be useful.
An irritating, persistent thought Peter had decided to banish from his mind the moment he had woken up from his fever induced stupor was now pecking his brain, bothering him, wanting him to pay attention to it. Peter simply pushed it further away… All the way down there to the remote parts of his deepest subconsciousness, from where it might not surface ever again… From where it should never come out… Peter's self defensive mechanism stitched his fragile heart up, sustaining it as best as it could… And he knew that only one thought of… Of She-who-must-not-be-named… Might make him explode and lose it all over again. And Peter Bishop wanted to stay whole so badly. He wished to heal on the inside as well as he was already healed on the outside… But to manage that… Peter needed the power of the blissful oblivion, which was soon going to be given to him by his good old friend, alcohol…
Peter seriously got drunk for the first time after he broke up with Tess… Or should I say it loud and clear: after she dumped me…. He puked, and drank and then puked again, initially simply trapped in that endless loop for what seemed like an eternity… But afterwards, he felt a lot better. He had found a temporary solution, a momentary distraction that would numb the unbearable pain if only for a short while…
And after that first time, Peter continuously used to reach for alcohol during all the significant failures in his life… When he became a high-school dropout… When Walter got himself locked up in a looney bin… When… When his mother committed suicide.
He swallowed hard at all those unpleasant souvenirs from his past and his emotional scars hurt once more, as strongly as they did in a moment when they were made by the slashes of inevitable, cruel fate.
Everything that happened to him made Peter stronger, more resilient, and more willing to survive, to continue swimming in the life sea full of sharks that could smell blood and fear of those who were already tired of living the same old routine filled with the darkness of insignificant and hurtful events, and with only a handful brilliant, shiny moments…
But it also made him weaker, and emotionally more susceptible, more prone to instability…. Peter was aware of that…
-Hey!-Maya's eyes twinkled as she greeted him, entering the poorly lit convalescence room, interrupting his inner monologue and closing the door behind her conspiratorially. –Look what I've got… -she whispered opening her lab coat widely, and for one insane moment Peter thought she was wearing nothing under it. The light was playing tricks on his mind. That, and his ten months long horniness, he pondered.
-I couldn't find more than two bottles… I picked this one up from the doctor's office and the other one was in one of the other patient's secret stash.
-That's alright-Peter grinned mischievously. –Two is a company… One bottle for you and one for me… We don't even need glasses. And the fun can begin in three, two, one…
They opened their bottles simultaneously and each of them took a good swig.
-God, I needed that-Peter sighed, feeling the warmth surging through his body, burning away all the negative thoughts and feelings he had… Bringing him the idyllic forgetfulness he craved…
Maya coughed a little. –I'm not really used to such strong drinks… I normally have a beer or two, or a glass of wine… That's about it… But since I thought you really meant what you said about needing some company… I didn't wanna ditch you. It's a shame to be drinking alone on a fine night like this.
-Actually, I did mean every word of it-Peter sized her up lustily and Maya blushed, but it was obvious she was pleased with the attention he'd been giving to her body.
She looks fine. Tall, slender… Nicely built… Warm brown eyes… Sexy red hair… What more can a man wish for in order to break his long-term fasting?
-Let's make a toast. To alcohol!-Peter said merrily.
-Um… To alcohol?-Maya replied with a wide insecure smile but she played along.
That tall, rugged, scruffy, handsome man was all she could talk about with other nurses for the last two weeks. Ever since they brought him in, all bashed and bruised, and since he opened his beautiful, kind, azure eyes. Not to mention when he smiled broadly and asked me what my name was. Maya liked the witty talk he gave to the nurses, his harmless flirting and his boyish demeanor… If he shaved that sizzling hot stubble, he would definitely look ten years younger… I think I'd like him both ways… He has such a baby face… And at the same time, he is so easy-going, down to earth and natural! Like he's completely oblivious to what he does to women's hearts and how he makes our knees wobbly…
Мr. Bishop's physical appearance was not the only thing that intrigued the redheaded nurse. Maya also wanted to get to know him better. He had an excellent sense of humor and he was very intelligent. Observing the recent changes in his behavior, she concluded something serious had recently occurred in his life and he wasn't coping well with the situation. Maya felt sorry for him, wished he would talk about it, but still, she knew it wasn't her place to ask and to intrude. They had never even spoken to each other beyond the common courtesies and occasional flirty remarks. And those never seemed to last for too long.
He mainly kept himself to himself and she could sense the immense depth of his personality that lurked beneath the frivolous comments and easy smiles. Lamentably, apparently, that wasn't the part he chose to share with many people, maybe not even with his own father...
Being a nurse, Maya was very observant about the patients, since that how nurses always had been, and she'd noticed that the son and his slightly disturbed father, even though they didn't have a bad relationship, not necessarily, shared a complicated and strained, albeit very strong and intriguing bond.
He didn't have many friends, either, as it seemed. The only people, who visited him, apart from his father, were his two female coworkers. And even the two of them came only once, immediately after he was brought in. The first one, stern and serious, robotic blond woman who politely and curtly inquired about his health, was probably his boss and she left after spending less than ten minutes in the convalescence room. The second girl who came in to see him and his father was incredibly endearing and kind, as far as Maya could say, and he chatted more with her, since she stayed for over an hour.
But he did have enemies… The people who did this to him.
Maya wondered what kind of man Peter Bishop was, exactly. And how was it possible for someone to look so harmless and sweet, and yet to attract such an incredible amount of danger to his persona?
As far as his romantic involvement was concerned, Maya was relieved to discover that the blonde woman who had visited him twice already was merely his friend. She was incredibly surprised when she discovered he was indeed single. A man like this… Could only be single of his own volition. He definitely falls into the category: Contents Under Pressure May Cause Serious Burns, Steamy, Sizzling, Crisp, Spicy, Flaming and so on and so forth. Well, the fact that he practically invited me to be with him here tonight as his drinking buddy is saying something… Maybe I'll get lucky, who knows?
Maya decided to simply go with the flow and see where that would take her. She wanted neither to put pressure on him nor to make things happen faster. If he liked her, if he thought she was cute or something along those lines, he would make a first move, like men always do. She fantasized about kissing him since she first saw him… She wanted to bang him, as well. But Maya didn't want crave just for that. She wished to be there for him even when he was released from hospital. She wanted him to take her cell number. To go on a normal, simple, date, and slowly, to get to know each other…
Peter's brain was comfortably turned off and numbed by alcohol. And it felt so right, so good, not to be inside his own head anymore, to be someone else just for an hour, or two, it didn't matter. To be the relaxed guy, the one who was downing shots with a hot chick like there was no tomorrow. His self-esteem was incredibly low, and he needed the way to boost his ego. Peter missed the admiring girls' looks, their giggles, the attention they used to pay to him wherever he went…He missed… The normalcy, really. The relatively ordinary life he had led before he was dragged into all this mess, into this freak show he never knew existed, and to be honest, he didn't even want to know… Peter Bishop preferred the previous blissful oblivion to the knowledge about the world horrors he obtained in the last ten months. He longed for fine dining, for excitement, for good company and for sex. He wanted to forget… Everything bad that had ever happened to him… The disruption of his family perfection… His love disappointments… His criminal past and the present fear he felt of the men who had once been his allies in the life of felony.
And whenever his eyes fell upon Maya and her kind smile, her affectionate, doting gaze, her soft hands, her curves and her cleavage… He knew she would help him. Her body would be the temporary distraction.
It would be so easy for him to pretend… To get stuck in this moment and never to get out of it, to submerge into the newly created fantasy and never to resurface into the painful reality, the one that patiently waited for him on the other side of his life maze he himself created.
Maya had taken five small sips from her bottle, but she noticed Peter had been drinking from his too quickly, and quite recklessly… In less than fifteen minutes he was already halfway through it and her forehead wrinkled with worry. He was still delicate, and even if he weren't, that much whisky in such a short time would cause a serious damage to his liver, or even lead to the alcohol poisoning.
-Hey…-she whispered gently, covering his hands with hers.
He lifted his head and looked at her with his bleary eyes, giving her a lopsided grin.
-You might wanna slow down with the booze…-she said, warily but kindly.
-Oh, but where would the fun be in that, honey…-Peter slurred, utterly inebriated and intoxicated, comfortably placing his arm around her waist. –Unless you know something you're not telling me, darling, and there are actually other ways to have fun in this filthy hopo?
The way she looked at him at that moment told him everything he needed to know. Peter's vision was foggy and blurry, his head was swimming, but he was conscious enough to detect the complete adoration that was written all over her face. He had her where he wanted her, and if he wished, he knew would be able to get into her honey pot in no time.
Peter nonchalantly and conveniently placed the bottle on his bedside table and motioned for her to settle down on the bed next to him, never removing the other arm from her waist.
-So… Is this bottle half-full or half-empty?-he inquired, barely having the strength to speak.- What do you say, doll?
-Well-Maya teased him, not sure which direction this conversation was taking, but happy to sit so close to him nevertheless-I've once heard of an interpretation that went like this: if you are an optimist-it's half full… If you are a pessimist… It's half empty.
-And if you are a cynic?
She shook her head, amused, not knowing what to answer to that.
-If you are a cynic…-Peter drunkenly lifted his forefinger into the air, as if he were giving her a lecture… -Then you wonder who drank the other half. More! The eternally optimistic eccentric would say, the bottle is consistently overflowing… Or is that the neurotic?... The research scientist says that following initial observation and testing a working hypothesis for further research is: "The bottle is both half full and half empty," and that these findings warrant further investigation with a more representative sample of glasses and contents, which may or may not be liquid. The algebraic simultaneous equation theorist says that if the bottle is equally half full and half empty, then half full = half empty; therefor = ½ x E; therefore (by multiplying both sides of the equation by 2) we show that F = E; i.e. Full equals Empty! The efficiency analyst says the bottle is operating substantially below optimization level, being consistently exactly 50% under-utilized during the period of assessment, corresponding to an over-resourcing in meeting demand equating to precisely 200% of requisite capacity in volume terms, not accounting for seasonal trends and shrinkage, and that if the situation continues there is in theory opportunity for savings or expansion….-he rambled on, although quite coherently, given the state he was in.
-You sound just like your father. Are you some sort of scientist, like him?-she inquired, amused.
-My father… Not my favorite. That's a story for another time. But now… Seeing how you won't let me indulge in one of my highly preferred beverages, I will simply have to look for the fun elsewhere.
Having said that, he reached for her body. Peter's firm, strong hands lifted Maya from the bed and easily pulled her on top of him, naughtily resting on her ass-cheeks in the process, squeezing them gently and possessively. She simply sighed in marvel, without protesting, suddenly forgetting how to move and how to breathe.
-Now this is my favorite pastime, baby-Peter muttered huskily into her ear, amused by the way her breathing all of a sudden became hitched and how she closed her eyes, slightly parting her full lips.
He reveled in the female presence, in the very feeling of woman's body so tightly pressed onto his… Peter had missed that sensation for so long… Last time a girl touched him was three months ago, in the bar… She placed her foot in his lap, he recalled… But he didn't go for it because… Peter pushed away the following thought with all the strength his mind could come up with and focused on Maya once more.
He lustily and playfully went for the right side of her neck, kissing it slowly up and down with the tip of his tongue and then lightly brushing his lips under her ear. The moans she elicited were an obvious sign that Peter was already driving her mad with his initial ministrations and she buried her head into his shoulder, caressing his overgrown hair.
Peter's hands moved from her buttocks and paid attention to her big breasts instead, prying them quickly and impatiently from their cotton prison and cupping them covetously. Maya instinctively lifted her head, wanting to protest, but then the tips of his thumbs softly tickled her already hardened nipples and she found herself wanting for more, instead of denying him the pleasure of touching her as she had originally planned…
-You like this, don't you?-he paused for the second, removing his fingers and waiting patiently and crookedly for her reaction.
That expert way in which he's stroking me… Ugh… She couldn't think coherently, feeling as if she were completely drunk and not the other way around…
-Please, don't stop… Oh God…-Maya groaned and he leisurely resumed his earlier activities, now with the forefinger and the thumb of his right hand, while his left hand sneaked down her breast canal, tracing the imaginary line and resting on her pulsating belly, simply circling around and occasionally dipping a little bit lower.
Maya felt the increasing heat deep in her core and blindly started rubbing herself against his pajama hidden hard-on, unaware of her own movements, needing to feel him so badly. That drove Peter crazy and he growled hornily, wanting nothing more that to strip her, throw her beneath him and plow her pussy as hard as he could.
She stopped dry humping him for the moment, opening her eyes and bringing her face closer to his. Then she gently touched his cheek and whispered breathlessly and hurriedly, without being able to control herself:
-Peter, I really, really like you… I want… I want you so much… I've fantasized about this moment since… Since the first time you opened your eyes on me… I know it sounds weird… I immediately had such a crush on you… After… This… I'd like us to… Get to know each other better… -she stated clumsily and awkwardly, unsure what else to say since she could notice his face hardening; but he said nothing and Maya tried to resume her speech nervously. The words failed her and she leaned forward to kiss him, wanting to convey how she felt by the simple touch of her lips.
As Maya's face was nearing Peter's, he could see the obvious alterations that were slowly befalling her but securely … She metamorphosed before his very eyes. Her pale complexion turned into a slightly freckled one, and her warm dark brown eyes gradually faded into a calm forest green… The curly fiery red hair in which he had previously entangled his fingers changed into a sleek, blonde, soft curtain. Petrified and horrorstruck, Peter Bishop found himself face to face with the very image that he had been trying to banish from his mind during the last three delusional, feverish days. He pushed her away so forcefully that Maya staggered backward in a surprise.
-What's wrong? Peter…
-I… I…-he stuttered like a halfwit and the illusion vanished in split second. Peter was now trembling all over, fiercely rejecting her attempts to touch him, to hug him, or to bring him closer. -I can't… I… Can't. Just go. Please. I'm sorry… I only wanted to… I needed a quickie so badly to… to forget… and… And nothing more… I would have used you… You're an OK girl… You don't deserve this… Not like that.
She stiffened and slowly stood up, buttoning her lab coat, trying to pretend very hard that she wasn't hurt but it didn't go so well.
-Is there… Someone else?-Maya barely dared to ask and then she saw him burying his face in his hands desperately, as a madman.
That was her answer. Trying to hide her disappointment, but at the same time, grateful for the way he had treated her, she decidedly went for the door and left Peter alone in his room.